A Congressional panel released a report Wednesday that alleges that Iran’s elite Al-Quds force offers support to Al-Qaeda, adding a new dimension to the militant threat to the United States.

In its report to the Congressional Anti-Terrorism Caucus, the strategic advisory firm Kronos highlighted what it says are increasingly strong links between the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps force and Al-Qaeda.

The report was released by the caucus after US troops killed Osama bin Laden in a raid in Pakistan that raised fresh doubts about Pakistan’s willingness or ability to track down Al-Qaeda suspects.

“Iran has quietly forged a strong working relationship with core al-Qaeda?s leaders,” said the report’s author Michael S. Smith II.

“This relationship has been established to counter American influence in the Middle East and South Asia,” according to his report.

“Through it, Iran will likely also help Al-Qaeda mobilize terrorists to carry out attacks against the US and our allies, providing the support required to extend Al-Qaeda’s operational reach,” the report added.

Smith argued that not enough attention has been paid to the links between the two entities because of a “pervasive” belief that Shiite and non-Arab Iran will work with the Sunni Arab militants of Al-Qaeda.

The ties date back to the 1990s when Al-Quds members worked with the Iranian-backed Hezbollah to train and equip bin Laden’s holy warriors. He cites the 9/11 Commission Report for operational linkages between the two.

“Since 9/11, these partnerships have become all the more pronounced. Hundreds of al-Qaeda members, along with family members of core al-Qaeda leaders like Osama bin Laden, have found refuge inside Iran,” he wrote.

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